Thursday, August 23, 2007
On Tuesday 8/20, the Fed encourage 5 of the nations largest banks to borrow from the discount window. Normally, this is an embarrassment for a bank, like borrowing money from your grandmother. The goal is to break the gridlock in intra-bank lending and to signal banks in the short run that the discount window is open for business.
What has not been mentioned in the media as far as I can tell is the underlying catalyst for the collapse in the mortgage and real estate markets. According to IRS data, real incomes have failed to rise for most of the 2000s. To make up for this shortfall most families have relied upon the increase in equity of their homes and credit cards to suppliment their incomes.
The strategy worked well, of course, when home prices were rising. However, home prices began to stall 2 years ago and we have just now begun to see the death of the creative financing that kept people upside-down in their homes. The real crisis is still ahead; supporting 2007 homes prices on year 2000 incomes.
The second bell of the credit crunch has yet to ring. Banks have been just as reckless with their credit card lending practices as they have with their mortgage lending if not more so. Capital One has already begun raising the cost of credit citing “business and economic factors." Should the rate of default begin to increase on credit card debt as well, banks can be counted upon to panic in an equally vigorous way. This could be a combination of raising interest rates and/or calling in existing balances in full bringing a collapse in upon themselves.
The unregulated growth of both mortgage lending and credit card debt has much to do with the Bush economic expansion. According to IRS data - "The growth in total incomes was concentrated among those making more than $1 million a year. The number of such taxpayers grew by more than 26 percent, to 303,817 in 2005, from 239,685 in 2000. These individuals, who constitute less than a quarter of 1 percent of all taxpayers, reaped almost 47 percent of the total income gains in 2005, compared with 2000." These fortunate few had little to do with economic growth over the past 6 years. Rather it was optimism and the hope of economic growth by the average citizen the fueled the expansion.
The most efficient way to redistribute this bulge of wealth is for the Federal Reserve to inflate the economy. To do so runs contrary to its primary mission. However, it may be the lesser of evils. Because the economy, like everything else touched by this adminstration, has been so grossly mismanaged, a radical approach may be required to jolt the balance of wealth back into equilbrium.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
If we learn anything from his presidency, one qualification we should look for in our leadership is the person's ability to flipflop. The ability to make corrections midcourse. Admit a mistake, take your licken, cut your losses and move on. It is a sign of maturity, not a sign of weakness. Ask anyone who has ever been successful at anything, they have made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.
That is understood.
But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship."
"There is one difference," I pointed out. "In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars."
"Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy.
All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.
It works the same way in any country."
Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
Finally, slowly, eyes begin to open. The truth of 9-11 just won't go away. My expertise is in finance and as a result I find comfort in statistics. Real modeling, by engineers and architects without an axe to grind will be out soon. I was surprised to learn that Mr. Gage just became aware that WTC Bldg #7 imploded in on itself during the 9-11 attacks even though it was not hit by a plane. I get the impression he is pissed.
The second film is 1 hour and 12 minutes long but very entertaining. After seeing it, my first thought was "thank god for the internet." I encourage you to take a look.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Suppose you are in the back seat of a car full of people powering over a Texas hill country highway late at night. The driver has the habit of looking at the person he is talking to. You are not sure how much he had to drink at the party. Everyone else seems comfortable so you try to relax. But you can't relax.
Behind the wheel, the thin, long, haired boy with a filament-mustache, turns around and asks if anybody needs a beer. Then you become angry, not with the boy, but with yourself. Your brother had offered you a ride but you left with a stranger to be with your girlfriend, Caitlyn, who has suddenly acquired a talent for palm reading when her new boyfriend asks how many children they will have.
You notice a guardrail to your left and beyond a rocky, moonlit canyon. The beige and blue Ford Bronco snaps past a road sign on your right warning of falling rock. As you wonder if the young driver has noticed, he accelerates into a straightaway. No one else in the car seems to care. The two girls in front introduce themselves as Jessica and Ashley. The driver, Michael, is Jessica's boyfriend. He turns and smiles, "How do you do." You think he should lose the mustache. Jessica and Ashley ask if your girlfriend can really read palms.
As you scold yourself for being such a prude, you see deer. They look frail and uncertain as the Bronco barrels towards them. Finally, a large doe, the mother, springs into a treetop gully followed by her fawn and disappear into the abyss. Somebody opens a beer and turns up the radio. Another road sign, this one yellow and black and shaped like a diamond. It shows hard turns left and right and below it there is a small triangular sign that says "Good Luck."
Straight ahead, another guardrail this one with reflectors look at you with an evil eye. "Michael!" you blurt. He turns. Maybe the mustache is okay, you think. "Watch your driving."
The Bronco explodes through the guardrail.
For a moment, the catclaw, lantana and blackbrush being crushed under the floorboard tickles your feet. Michael desperately forces down on the breaks. You hear Caitlyn exclaim "Oh my God, we are going to have five children!"
"Ya know" Caitlyn's boyfriend says, "my best friend died in a wreck like this. The ones in the back seat lived though." Chaos ensues. "Or was it because he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, I can't recall but don't worry honey."
You want to be angry with Michael. You trusted him, put your life in his hands and now he has killed you.
At least Caitlyn will have a big, beautiful family.
Monday, July 2, 2007
Our federal government, which so often meddles in affairs which are none of it's business, refrains from leading during a national crisis when leadership is clearly needed. There is probably a reason for this; professional politicians thrive on excessive carbon dioxide. They are among the first homo-sapiens to adapt to this new environment. Soon they will mutate to be completely dependent upon breathing carbon dioxide. Taken from this perspective, their actions make perfect sense.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Although many conservatives are distancing themselves from this well paid intellectual from the Olin Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, The Hoover Institute, some like Glenn Beck are in agreement. From a Feb 21, 2007 quote of Mr. Beck –
BECK: You know, there`s a new poll out that Muslims, the higher educated Muslims in the Middle East are more likely to be extremists? More and more Muslims now hate us all across the world, and it really has not a lot to do with anything other than our morals.
The things that they were saying about us were true. Our morals are just out the window. We`re a society on the verge of moral collapse. And our promiscuity is off the charts.
Now I don`t think that we should fly airplanes into buildings or behead people because of it, but that's the prevailing feeling of Muslims in the Middle East. And you know what? They`re right.
I wonder when reading arguments like this to what set of charts the writer refers. They must be exclusive graphs available to a chosen few because the holders of these charts are reluctant to produce them for peer review. Never the less, Beck throws in with the idea that Islam “hates us for our freedom.” The implication being that the only way to save ourselves is to become less free by joining a fundamentalist Christian mega-church and adopting a strong set of morals.
Bin Laden has said that his reason for attacking America is due to our presence in their holy lands. He accuses America and Israel of conspiring to take over the Muslim world. By definition according to the Koran, anyone who is not a Muslim is unholy and immoral. This makes D’Souza’s argument, that if America was occupied by conservative Christians, fanatic Islamists might be our friends, contrary to what Bin Laden has said.
To quote D’Souza –
“Islam is notorious for the harshness of some its punishments, such as cutting off the arms and legs of thieves, flogging adulterers and executing drug dealers. In this respect, one may say, with only a hint of irony, that Muslims are in the Old Testament tradition.”
D’Souza skirts the issue that one of the foundations for Abrahamic religions is a fanatical fear of human sexuality. Embedded is this religious tradition is an assumed definition of what constitutes the difference between a moral and immoral society. This ancient tradition is never questioned by D’Souza. In fact, he embellishes it by citing bin Laden’s November 2002 “Letter to America” which calls on us “to reject fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling and trading with interest.” With the exception of trading with interest, D’Souza and fundamentalist Christians agree that bin Laden correctly identifies immoral behavior.
In doing so the core of D’Souza’s arguments are mute. First, Democracy is a system which empowers people. The rights of women and homosexuals are a slow but natural outgrowth of our system. It is our system that needs to be changed in order to encourage Americans to conform D’Souza’s definition of morality. What he is really arguing for is the Dominionist Doctrine of replacing our constitution with biblical law. That is, if we want to encourage terrorist to be our pals and generally have peace on earth.
In many ways his ideas are already being implemented. Our privacy is subject to government scrutiny, for the first time in our history torture is an accepted practice, Habeas Corpus can be suspended by presidential decree and kidnapping is a tool of law enforcement. The morality of these policies fits into D’Souza’s implied definition. It is something that Muslims and Christians both do and compliment Old Testament law. Kidnapping, spying and torture are well established traditions of both cultures.
D’Souza prefaced his book by saying –
“In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. … In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world. The Muslims who carried out the 9/11 attacks were the product of this visceral rage—some of it based on legitimate concerns, some of it based on wrongful prejudice, but all of it fueled and encouraged by the cultural left. Thus without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.
“I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the ‘war against terrorism.’ … I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats.”
He treats his accusations as though they are derived from some unique insight involving an unparalleled quest into depths of human thought. However, conservatives have blamed liberals for everything from slough to gluttony; adding terrorism to their list of accusations is a normal progression. Because D’Souza is well kept by partisan institutions like the Olin Foundation, The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, he is free to amble around ideas unrestrained by facts. The major theme of this book has little to do with D’Souza. It is one of many products being manufactured by neocon institutions desperately trying to divert public attention from the failed policies of their past.
Friday, February 23, 2007
-- Clinton lied under oath to a Federal Grand Jury. (That’s perjury, of course, and perjury remains a felony.)
-- Clinton continues to lie about his 12-year affair with Gennifer Flowers.
-- Clinton still denies he sexually harassed Paula Jones. (Even though he paid her $850,000 in hush money.)
-- Clinton persists in dismissing the Whitewater scandal as a “land deal where I lost money.” (Despite the fact that a dozen of his close associates landed in jail over the matter.)
-- Clinton illegally obtained FBI files on his political opponents, and lied about that, too.
-- On the golf course, Clinton has an incredibly difficult time playing his ball where it lies. According to close observers (Tiger Woods among them), Clinton exhibits questionable math when he tallies his scorecard.
-- And according to Washington Post reporter John Harris, Clinton was so upset about his inability to lose weight in 2000, that following his annual physical he instructed aides to release a bogus number that made him five pounds lighter.
The intent of Kudlow's article is to remind us of the anxiety and bedlam during the Clinton Administration. Surprisingly, he didn't accuse the former president of murdering his best friend Vince Foster. It must have slipped his mind. Re-writing history takes a lot of concentration. Without propaganda the neocons would not have succeeded as a viable political movement and Kudlow is among the many think tank pundits who keep the minions on task.
Not all of their accusations are so stale. This week, for example, a brand new spin term was introduced into their rhetoric; slow bleed. It's about time, the absence of cut and run left a gaping hole in their political jargon. The mainstream media embraced slow bleed like a newborn and treated it like their own. Kudlow, on the other hand, was reaffirming neocon distortions of American history. By accusing President Clinton of lying about his weight or shaving strokes off his golf game, Kudlow smugly imagines he has polished his argument to a brilliant sheen.
Even during the height of the Lewinsky scandal, polls showed that most Americans outside the Beltway considered it a petty, political battle. Kudlow thinks citizens are unaware that neocons spent $80 million, hired 2 special prosecutors and tormented Clinton throughout his presidency in order to catch him with a stain on his tie. Clinton will never "admit to" participating in the Whitewater Scandal because there wasn't one. Just ask Susan McDougal, who spent a year in jail because she refused to lie about Clinton under oath. here This interview must be off limits to true believers in neocon narrative. She is clearly a causality of their hatred and a person of honor and integrity.
A month before the invasion of Iraq, Kudlow wrote this in the National Review -
"Military troops are being put in place in the Iraq theatre. Special forces are on the ground, preparing to capture the oil fields. The mightiest air-bombing campaign in history is being planned. A government-in-exile, one pledged to develop a representative democracy with social pluralism and true human rights in Iraq, is being organized. War, it appears, is on the way.
And now it is time for action. Most Americans today are waiting for President Bush to once and for all pull the plug on Saddam. The nation has placed its trust in the commander in chief. There is no doubt that we will succeed in this venture. There is no doubt that the dominos of freedom and democracy will fall throughout the Middle East after Saddam’s removal. And there is no doubt that international terrorism will be dealt another mortal blow."
It appears that while criticizing President Clinton for errors in judgement Kudlow was making a few of his own. Oddly, Kudlow and his cohorts rant hysterically about Clinton but still fail to recognize shortcomings of their own. Minds like this would have invited Monica to bring her friends to the Whitehouse for a long weekend and then invaded Cuba.
History may reveal whether neocons believe their aberrant assertions or they are purposefully spinning tales. As their partisans diminish in number and ideas, even old stand bys like smearing President Clinton lack the zeal it once had. The movements ability to compartmentalize it's contradictions is demoralized with every new failure. The day will come when not even Fox News and a tricky phrase like "slow bleed" will be able to save them.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
What makes his article unique today is his authoritative view of our constitution and our history. Quoting Lincoln for saying:
Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.
Mr. Gaffney agrees. Disagreement in any form with the failed policies of President Bush should be stifled and punished by exile or hanging. Specifically, Senators Levin and Rockefeller for their public comments about Douglas Feith and his unintentional, mistakes as Under Secretary of Defense. His reports were the foundation for the invasion of Iraq.
It is one thing to error in favor of invading a sovereign country quite another to criticize Feith’s work as sloppy and contrived. In the case of Senator Levin and Senator Rockefeller, their treasonous, criticism "damage morale and undermine the military" and should be put to death. In this opinion President Lincoln clearly agrees.
Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com wondered about the context of President Lincoln’s quote. On checking he discovered Lincoln said no such thing. The neoconservative founder, Frank Gaffney, made another mistake. By doing so he’s able to advocate that Senator Levin and Senator Rockefeller be put to death. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/
Glenn Greenwald wonders if anyone in the mainstream media will report on this bizarre breach of ethics. He concludes that we probably won’t hear much about it. It takes a lot of brain power for neoconservatives to run the country and they can’t be distracted by silly mistakes.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
President Bush denies that Haggard was a highly regarded advisor, consistent with the ritual of shunning those who have fallen. Scooter Libby is being sacrificed. Another trustee suffers public humiliation. Atoning for the sins of his master, Libby’s faith is being tested. The sea of Bush believers evaporates into a rancid pool. Positive proof of climate change should be passed onto government ministers.
The faith of the hardcore 30% is being tested. Bush think-tank, supported defenders are dumping their best bile on the heathen hordes of Democrats and unfaithful. The message of the last election strengthened their resolve to prove that incompetence and corruption are a matter of preception. Bush enablers have escalated to hysterical rants modeled on masters like Pee Wee Herman. Dreaming dreams of regaining majority status the same way Pee Wee found his bike.
Last week they attacked Speaker Pelosi for using a government plane to commute. These suddenly, frugile, neo-cons fired Stuart Bowen last October. The Republican appointee who uncovered billions of dollars in waste and corruption in Iraq. The Pelosi accusers so eager to save government money, gladly paid full retail prices to drug companies for Medicare Plan D. Between vacations they packed more pork into spending bills than any congress in history. So arrogant they boldly financed a $223 million bridge to nowhere in Alaska: a national embarrassment. Generations will pass before the gold metal records of waste and corruption set by the 109th Congress will be broken.
Also, more hysteria; John Hawkins of Townhall.com wrote "Liberals vs The Troops."
He asserts -
"But, the truth is, despite their politically motivated protestations to the contrary, the majority of liberals genuinely do not like or support our troops. They view them as dumb, brainwashed, sadistic Bushbots who only deserve support if they're trashing the war, trashing Bush, or if they're deserters like Ehren Watada."
More bile spews from the pens of aloof, wealthy pundits with their egos as skin in the game. This is the quality of thought coming from the current base of Bush support. An article accusing Democrats of hating the troops. Many of whom have loved ones serving in Iraq. This week Democrats voted to restore veterans benefits neo-cons cut to give tax breaks to wealthy Americans. They also opened an investigation into why our troops were ordered into battle without proper equipment. Neo-con deeds betray such vile accusations. It was their hero, Rumsfeld, who said "You go to war with the army you've got." Unless the war is optional.
This process is dismantling the Republican Party. Their selective, adolescent screening of realty keeps them from understanding the extent of their wounds. It may be wiser for real conservatives to change their name rather than attempt to revive the corrupted Republican Party.
Friday, February 9, 2007
Reverend Ted Haggard emerged from and undisclosed clinic in Phoenix on Wednesday after three weeks of intense counseling. He promptly announced another miracle; he’s been certified not gay. Victoria Slulum was quoted at “The Onion” saying “It's true. I saw that press conference where reporters tempted him by waving a bunch of meth-covered cocks in his face, and he didn't even flinch."
The speed of his progress may be a result of divine intervention. After years of deriding and belittling gays as founding Pastor of the New Life Church in Boulder, CO, Reverend Haggard has undoubtedly learned that most of his dispersions were true. His experience proves that gayness is a choice easily overcome by a few weeks in therapy.
When asked if Haggard had received any special attention one of his doctors said “No, we treated him the same as all the other cock suckers around here.” The treatment which Haggard underwent is similar to the one used in “A Clockwork Orange.” Instead of using drugs, electrodes are implanted into Reverend Haggard’s unit and shock him when aroused by watching gay porn. He’ll continue to wear them until his wife Gayle tells him he can take it off.
Gayle Haggard has stayed by her husband’s side in the hospital. While Reverend Haggard was reconditioned, Gayle was trained on the proper use of a strap-on. “Technique is everything” Gayle said while doing leg lifts in the gym. “At first I resented the accusation by church leaders that Ted was driven to other men because I’m sexually prudish. Men know better what other men like. I’m learning.” Gayle’s first love is still homemaking but she has learned that sometimes a woman’s place is on top.
Soon Gayle and Ted will be moving from their home in Boulder, Co. During Haggard's treatment in Phoenix, his doctors discovered another problem yet unsolved. Besides gayness, they also diagnosed Reverend Haggard to be a pathological liar. Like many people of faith, he believes his own lies. Treatment for truth- avoidance condition will take much longer. As a consequence, Reverend Haggard has been encouraged to continue aggressive therapy.
If neglected, he will continue to regress deeper into fantasy. Believing anything he wishes with no foundation in reality, its rumored Reverend Haggard thinks he’s a super hero with the power to throw farts.
Since he doesn't want to debate anything except his own brilliance, let's make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now). This way neither of us can hide behind clever word play or CV reading. If there's another reasonable wager Cole wants to offer which would measure our judgment, I'm all ears. Money where your mouth is, doc.
Very soon Mr. Goldberg's new book is due to be released on the public; "Liberal Facism." It's pundits like this that make me want to be a Democrat. Here's his publishers description of the book -
LIBERAL FASCISM offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg shows that the original fascists were really on the Left and that liberals, from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton, have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism. . . . he boldly illustrates the resemblances between the opinions advanced by Hitler and Mussolini and the current views of the Left.
My comment -
Mr. Goldberg has corrupted genuine conservatism to represent a self-serving, political philosphy leaching the life out of the Republican Party. I doubt that his analysis of political, history is much better than his forecasting victory in Iraq. Self destruction by the Republican party, may lead to the one party system he dreads Senator Clinton will create.
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
When Texas Governor Rick Perry signed the bill to create the referendum, he did so at a Christian evangelical school alongside what he called his pro-family "Christian friends." When asked why he supports the ban, he replied, simply enough: "I am a Christian and this is about values."
Proposition 2 was a response to the Supreme Court declaring
(A) any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or
(B) the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object.
(2) "Sexual contact" means any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
(3) "Sexual intercourse" means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.
A crime was committed if a husband inadvertently penetrated the wrong orifice making love to his wife. There are no statistics on how many law-abiding husbands turned themselves over to the authorities for this infraction. Not many I’d guess. Laws like these invite lawbreaking and disrespect for those who made them.
Sexuality is a subject that people with good morals just don’t talk about. Without question, good Christians accept that homosexuality threatens the sanctity of marriage. A class of citizens is discriminated against as a result. Gays are not eligible for the legal benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
More laws protecting the sanctity of marriage are probably coming. There’s political pressure to make divorce much more difficult. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D. of Andrews University, explains - God’s original plan consists of a man and a woman being united in a marriage bond so strong that the two actually become one flesh (Gen 2:26; Matt 19:6; Mark 10:8). The "one flesh" unity of the couple is reflected especially in their offspring who partake of the genetic characteristics of father and mother, and the two are absolutely inseparable. Jesus affirms that it is God Himself who actually joins together a couple in marriage and what God has joined together no human being has the right to separate.
Our lawmakers in
Laws to protect the sanctity of marriage and punish sexuality are made by men who are insecure about their own sexuality. To justify imposing their values they quote scripture. The Bible in which they claim everything written is true. Sometime soon, I plan to take a closer look at these verses to see why this Old Testament history is the basis for so many laws.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Date of information - 2005
People's Republic of China
Thursday, February 1, 2007
The “Monroe Doctrine” of 1823 warned European powers to stay out of Latin America, including Central America, which had a particular importance to the United States because of its proximity. By the early 20th century, U.S. companies dominated the economies of Central American republics, including Nicaragua, controlling most of the banana production, railroads, port facilities, mines, and banking institutions. The United States intervened in Nicaragua repeatedly to protect U.S. economic interests. In 1912 U.S. marines landed once again to maintain a pro-American government; this occupation lasted until 1925. Augusto César Sandino, a nationalist and leader of Nicaraguan peasants and workers, refused to accept the U.S.-sponsored peace treaty that kept U.S. influence and economic power intact. He organized an army of peasants, workers, and Indians to resist thousands of U.S. marines and the U.S.-trained Nicaraguan National Guard. Sandino’s 1933 proclamation called upon all the nations of Central America to oppose U.S. imperialism. From 1927 to 1933 Sandino waged a successful guerrilla war against the United States with support from Mexican and other Latin American anti-imperialists.
"You ask me about what is called imperialism. Well, I have formed views about that question. I am at the disadvantage of not knowing whether our people are for or against spreading themselves over the face of the globe. I should be sorry if they are, for I don't think that it is wise or a necessary development. As to China, I quite approve of our Government's action in getting free of that complication. They are withdrawing, I understand, having done what they wanted. That is quite right. We have no more business in China than in any other country that is not ours. There is the case of the Philippines. I have tried hard, and yet I cannot for the life of me comprehend how we got into that mess. Perhaps we could not have avoided it -- perhaps it was inevitable that we should come to be fighting the natives of those islands -- but I cannot understand it, and have never been able to get at the bottom of the origin of our antagonism to the natives. I thought we should act as their protector -- not try to get them under our heel. We were to relieve them from Spanish tyranny to enable them to set up a government of their own, and we were to stand by and see that it got a fair trial. It was not to be a government according to our ideas, but a government that represented the feeling of the majority of the Filipinos, a government according to Filipino ideas. That would have been a worthy mission for the United States. But now -- why, we have got into a mess, a quagmire from which each fresh step renders the difficulty of extrication immensely greater. I'm sure I wish I could see what we were getting out of it, and all it means to us as a nation."
The neo-conservatives share the conviction that Americans crave global expansion. Our recent tendency toward isolationism is a concern. When President Bush delivered a strong warning against isolationism in Tuesday's State of the Union address, he was speaking to a recent and dramatic turn in public opinion. A recent Pew Research survey found a decided revival of isolationist sentiment among the public, to levels not seen since post-Cold War 1990s and the post-Vietnam 1970s. However, rightwing pundits expound that over time Americans will return to Imperialism once the stinging mistakes in Iraq are soon forgotten.
Our history proves their point. America formed by revolution and war continues to be a tool frequently used since our founding. War keeps us strong. The military, industrial-complex nourishes. During hard times, war puts us to work. Today, despite the perpetual fumbling of the Bush administration, Iraq feeds the machine of the American economy. It is not surprising that in today’s New York Times, David Brooks asserts –
“Americans are having a debate bout how to proceed in Iraq, but we are not having a strategic debate about retracting American power and influence. What’s most important about this debate is what doesn’t need to be said. No major American leader doubts that America must remain, as Dean Acheson put it, the locomotive of the world. . . .”
Knowing our history, why would Mr. Brooks think otherwise?
Free enterprise left unencumbered is a creative, resilient system. Despite its faults, it is the most plausible way to encourage jobs, growth and efficient use of resources. Meddling by the Federal Reserve control of interest rates and tax law imposed by Congress are the primary reasons free enterprise temporarily breaks. Although war is always good for business, President Clinton showed that peace and prosperity are compatible for at least 8 years.
The neo-con assertion that America will continue to expand its power and influence may be true but is a topic that deserves debate. Meddling in other people’s governments backed by the threat of war is a model that has worked at too high a human cost. Other approachs needs consideration. Free enterprise is an aggressive system. The use of state sponsored force is a practical way to get what you want but the expense of doing so needs a true accounting.
Creating friendly governments with which to do business damages the citizens of that nation. With few exceptions, power and wealth concentrate to the ruling elite at the expense of the people and their natural resources. Our interference create nations of enemies when homegrown governments such as Venezuela educate their population to understand how they have been had.
One cost yet expensed is horrors like 9/11. Gradually, citizens of the world are becoming hostile toward us, often with good reason. As a consequence, Americans are in increasing danger. The comfort of our overwhelming military power lessens as the violence we’ve imposed on others turns on us. As a result our military requires more of our resources to protect us from increasing, more sophisticated threats. Thus the spiral continues as we become increasingly fearful, wasteful and well fed.
The company with the lowest costs for labor and material wins. Interjecting political and military force to accomplish that is not part of capitalism but extraneous to it. No company that is profit driven would reject using a tool that aids in competition. It is the job of American citizens to question if using force to lower the cost of production is worth the consequences. So far, it has been. However, the model which has served us so well is the past is beginning to fray. We have options besides funding our military. Those resources could be put to better use.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Being led by a group of inexperienced, rich kids, who don't know how to deal with mistakes is taking a costly toll on our nation. President Bush and his small group of enablers are demonstrating their flawed attempts to fix a mistake once again by compounding the error. My hope is to limit the damage they do until the end of George W's term and repairing the damage they have done can begin.
Then these people can be marginalized to the fanatical fringe where they belong, trials for their lawbreaking can begin and our country can refocus it's resources on solutions that really work. Until then, this dark time for our country continues. Like children who don't understand the meaning of the word "no," these people of privilege are emotional cripples, experts at capturing the oppourtunity of leading but incapable of leading.
Denying your failures and fixing problems with money may work in their personal lives but in a position of responsibility this lack of maturity is disasterous. Their power fading, this is when they become most dangerous and all we can do right now is try to prevent ourselves from falling with them into the abyss. These next 2 years will be the most dangerous of our time.
By now one would think that able-minded persons would realize their mistakes. Not so with the affluent. The born to wealth class elude many of the practical experiences most of us deal with in the process of maturing. The lesson that fire can burn you, for example, is never learned. To the upperclass fire is a form of entertainment. Normal rules of physics, behaviour and etiquette don't apply to them. Growing older means you have to throw your temper tantrumns behind closed doors or better yet, spin them into a quality of leadership. And any enterprise at which they fail is caused by others who are less competent. Consequences are things that other people suffer and even "the good ones" will betray you.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Busting people who are sick and often times wearing nothing but tee-shirts, shorts and sandals, makes a poor contrast to the tanks, automatic weapons and bulletproof outfits worn by the DEA. Shutting down marijuana dispensaries refocuses the War On Drugs back on minorities who dress better and are better armed. In additon, keeping drug money illegal removes it from taxation and allows better deployment of the funds on bitches, cars and bribing public officials where it belongs.
When asked, "Why didn't you just send a couple of people in suits to serve the warrant and load up the stash?" Sarah Pullen, spokeswoman for the DEA's Los Angeles field division, said agents seized large quantities of marijuana-laced edibles that included "anything from ice cream bars to lollipops to cookies to candies and candy bars. We didn't want to miss a chance to gun down someone with a brain tumor baking cookies."
Unfortunately, the only resistance came from a handful of protestors. Officials said that more than 20 people were detained for questioning but no charges have been filed. One nursing home and a hospice as yet unidentified are suspected of generating the core of dissenters. Leary of being accused of profiling, officials denied any correlation between illness, pain-relief and medical marijuana. "Drug fiends will do anything for a marijuana fix," said an unidentified source inside the DEA, "we've seen perfectly, normal, terminally-ill people who'd do anything to get their lips around a mary jane lollipop."
Thursday, January 18, 2007
There are rumors that the link between national security and pornography is significant. For example, many of the 9/11 perpetrators liked lap dances. The uninformed might think that naked people are less difficult to search and unlikely to conceal WMDs; however they may pose another kind of classified threat only the highest echelons of government are privy to knowing. Personally, I’ve had some experience with porn and even have a few movies which I plan to review in detail for latent signs subversive activity.
Sen. Hatch praised the recently passed "Adam Walsh Act" (guided through Congress by its main sponsor, Republican Congressman Mark Foley), but then insisted that whole new laws and far more substantial efforts were required to battle the perverse and destructive wickedness of sex films. He wasn’t specific as to what kind of “destructive wickedness” that pornography causes. Most likely he wasn’t at liberty to disclose that information. He made it clear that more laws are needed but didn’t give any specifics.
Another issue Sen. Hatch neglected to mention is what to do with pornographers once they’ve been convicted. The U.S. already jails more of its citizens than any country on the planet. It’s possible he’s considering x-rated quarters at Guantanamo Bay. Prisons for the unclothed might also be part of his plan. One benefit would be a low percentage of escapees.
Pouring government money and law enforcement resources into punishing the sex film industry is an idea that can only come from our most experienced elected officials. Since the invention of the Gutenberg Press, pornography has been second only to the bible in reader popularity. Putting an end to this linkage is a bold step. Ultimately, terrorists are sure to take note once they hear of Sen. Hatch’s plans. Even President Bush has noted that the terrorists “hate us for our freedom.”
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
For the record, 40 percent of American adults said that the following statement was true: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” In Romania, 55 percent agreed with a similar statement. Iceland led the 34 nations, with 85 percent acceptance. The UK scored 75 percent.
When I read surveys like these the same thought comes to mind; we need to make education a higher priority in this country. Right-wing issues like gay marriage and abortion should be put on hold for awhile until a majority of our citizens are educated enough to make rational decisions. Laws based upon superstition that affect large groups of American citizens are inherently unfair. Even if our elected senators and congressmen are better educated than their constituents, they are still expected to vote the will of people who believe in the bogyman.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The two elements of a morally perfect character:
1) "Mercy," shutting out all forms of selfishness and hate.
2) "Truth," shutting out all deliberate falsehood, all hypocrisy, conscious or unconscious.
When is the last time you heard a Christian preach morality from this point of view? At the very least, those who put themselves in a position to judge should have these two attributes.
The wise man reserves what he has to say for the right time, place, and persons. The fool can't keep his opinions to himself and is quick to judge.
Proverbs 10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
- 53 AD
Even before all the books of the Bible were written, there was talk that Christ's return had already taken place. The Thessalonians panicked on Paul when they heard a rumor that the day of the Lord was at hand, and they had missed the rapture.
A Roman priest living in the second century predicted Christ would return in 500 AD, based on the dimensions of Noah's ark.
Muntzer, a leader of German peasants, announced that the return of Christ was near. After Muntzer and his men destroyed the high and mighty, the Lord would supposedly return. This belief led to an uneven battle against government troops. He was strategically outnumbered. Muntzer claimed to have had a vision from God in which the Lord promised that He would catch the cannonballs of the enemy in the sleeves of His cloak. The prediction within the vision turned out to be false when Muntzer and his followers were mowed down by cannon fire.
Mary Bateman, who specialized in fortune telling, had a magic chicken that laid eggs with end-time messages on them. One message said that Christ was coming. The uproar she created ended when an unannounced visitor caught her forcing an egg into the hen's oviduct. Mary later was hanged for poisoning a wealthy client. History does not record whether the offended chicken attended the hanging.
It is not difficult to distinguish between the boisterous fools who continually criticize and are bloated with certainty of their beliefs and those who rarely speak but do good things from a pure heart. The bible is filled with good advice on how to live. It continually documents how greed, deception and arrogance lead to an unsatisfactory life. At the same time, Christian leaders are blind to it's teachings. Why they are so excited for Jesus Christ to reappear is a tribute to their blindness because they will be the first to swim in the eternal lake of fire. Promoting the myth of the rapture fills church bank accounts. Those who believe fear being "left behind." At the same time, good Christians gleefully wait for the moment when "they" will float into the clouds and witness Christ slaughter 2.5 billion non-believers. This Christ will be filled with anger and blood lust. Vengeance and retribution with replace his former teachings of peace and love for mankind. This new Jesus is angry that we haven't conformed and except for the chosen few who are raptured the rest of us will be condemned to hell. Meanwhile, those who've extrapolated this horror from the bible are getting rich. Not only by selling immunity from persecution but also incorporating the end times into videos, books and movies; judgment day has become a very big business. Vengeance and retribution sell very well to the self-righteous. After all, Jesus has given us plenty of chances. Soon it will be time for him to kick some serious Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, pagan, atheist and all other non-believer ass. As to the time of Christ's return, it's a bit uncertain. He's missed over a hundred deadlines. Why hurry with all that tax-free cash flow pouring in, there's so much good that Christians can do.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
...Sources among the heroic community of pro bono lawyers who are defending some of the innocent and some of the guilty at Gitmo tell me that Stimson's comments are not isolated, that there has been a full program dedicated to the harassment of Gitmo lawyers - surveillance, pettty harassment, pressure on their law firms. Now ask yourself: why would a government that has competently captured and detained dangerous terrorists not want good legal defenses for them to show beyond a doubt that they have been fairly detained? The Bush administration acts and sounds like a defensive police state when it comes to terrorism detainees. Maybe that's because, in many cases of competely unfair detention, they are.
...McCurry believes the Kerry campaign has come around to the need to show a little spiritual leg. "All of a sudden, values is big in the campaign. So there's a realization that they can't tip toe around it."
Why has the party struggled so? McCurry believes it's that Democratic hyper-sensitivity to offending minority groups, especially, in this case, Jewish voters. "Because we want to be politically correct, in particular being sensitive to Jews, that's taken the party to a direction where faith language is soft and opaque."
McCurry and other Democratic brainiacs are mixed up. They are confusing the fundamentalist Christian ability to politically organize and force minority opinions upon the rest of us with their dogma which if ever fully exposed would permanently relegate them to the lunatic fringe.
Fundamentalist Christians have managed to focus media and congressional attention upon issues dear to themselves. Gay marriage, abortion and creationism have taken precedence over our political discourse since George W. was elected. Occasionally, we are treated to an expose on our crumbling infrastructure or the need for alternative fuels, but our daily dose of news is monopolized by the Christian agenda.
Friday, January 12, 2007
January 12, 2007
Mr. Dan Bartlett
Counselor to the President,
The White House
On behalf of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and in conjunction with the White House News Photographers Association, we are writing to express our outrage that still pool photographers were denied access to the White House library on Wednesday evening. As you know, following weeks of preparation and the White House build-up leading up to the presidential address, this was a significant foreign policy speech. Forcing newspapers and magazines to rely on a “screen grab” photo from the Fox News network pool feed is simply unacceptable.In recent months, there has been a growing pattern of restricting pool photographers to White House events, but the situation Wednesday night for this important speech to the nation is the most glaring.We expressed our concern to Tony Snow and Dana Perino earlier today, and join the WHNPA in asking that this practice end. These photographers provide a vital service to wires, magazines and newspapers around the world, while also serving as a lasting historical record to the events of our times. In addition, a White House photo release is never an acceptable substitute for independent news coverage. Therefore, in our strongest terms possible, we want to express our disappointment that a decision was made to keep even a single pool photographer from the room, and ask that it never happen again.
Regards,Board of Directors -
ABC NewsJennifer Loven,
Associated PressPeter Maer,
CBS NewsSteve Holland,
New York TimesKen Walsh,
US News & World ReportKen Herman,
Cox NewspapersMike Allen, TIME
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
I've been working straight since I was 14 years old and began having children when I was 24. So most of my adult life I haven't made any major decisions without considering what effect it would have on my kids. My life up until now has been all about them; including where to live, how to live, what to do for a living and what to do in my free time. Having 4 children with a stay at home mom has kept me very busy until now. Looking back, I do not begrudge the experience. On the contrary, raising children has been one of the best parts of my life.
Children are uniquely qualified to mold you in ways you never imagined. Helping them become the best that they could be, brought out the best in myself. What a surprise that was! As a father I wanted the best for my children, things I didn't even want for myself. And creating a safe, healthy environment for them to grow up became the major focus in my life.
Never was I one to imagine myself rearing lots of children when I thought about my future before marriage. It just worked out that way. Prior to that I was considering a life similar to Ernest Hemmingway. I'd actually had a few articles published and was told by people in the business that I was a promising young author.
That is why I am here now, writing, hoping to get back into practice and trying to see if writing is something I want to pursue now that I have the time. It's the one thing I keep coming back to as a source of enjoyment so I think I'll keep on putting words to paper in the hope that the enthusiasm I once had returns. Every stage of my life so far has been a new adventure. I'm 58 years old now and I'm beginning to understand that longevity has a great deal to do with passion. I'm very lucky to have found Rosie my wife.
It took me 49 years to find her but she has completed me in ways I never imagined. I love her everyday and even the things about her that should make me angry, don't. She is the kindest, most loving person I've ever met. It's a natural gift with her, part of her make up. I see her same traits in some of her family but her ability to be in a generally good mood almost all of the time is truly unique. She's a blessing to me. To know her and have her as my mate is something I never expected to happen.
When my oldest son was first born, he opened my eyes to things that only a father can understand. I'll never forget how stunned I was by the depth of my love for that child. After him, my daughter came and I learned that love compounds. It's been the same with all of the kids. They've all helped show me the meaning of love. Each of them borrowed until they were raised.
I remember reading that somewhere when I was in college; that children are a gift from god that we love more than ourselves and can never keep. The whole point in having children is to raise them and then set them free or better yet, they set themselves free. And that is precisely what has happened, it's been a great experience.
To find a mate with whom I felt the same intense, selfless passion is something I never expected. If I believed in god, I'd think she was a gift. Although some coincidences feel very contrived at times, they are beyond my comprehension. Not all mysteries need to be solved but sometimes it's fun to speculate about them and to contemplate ideas like everyone in the world farting at the same time.
There's something revolting about people who claim to have answers about things that cannot be proven. Not only are they lying and often times delusional, the mystery is belittled. Instead of something wondrous and magical, it becomes flat and uninspiring. It's challenging to avoid truth. You're forced to remember explanations and theories and logic that intuitively doesn't fit. My good fortune in finding Rosie is beyond explanation. I'm happy seeing it that way.
This new situation of having free time, making choices without the pressure of necessity, pushes me in a way I would have never expected. It's something I've been striving for but never really I'd accomplish. Now that I have I don't want to get out of bed. It's possible that I'm lazy. Now that there is no reason to work, I don't. More likely, this is a stage I'm going through. I believe motivation will return. I've just never had the luxury of relaxing. Now that I'm seeing the finish line, it occurs to me that the end is coming soon enough and I can take my time. To do what? I've never had the luxury of asking the question.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Saturday, January 6, 2007
1. The Bible Says the Sun Revolves Around the Earth
2. The Bible Says the Moon is a Source of Light
3. The Bible Says the Sky is a Dome
4. The Bible Says the Stars Are Little Lights Fixed in the Sky-Dome
5. The Bible Says the Earth Is Small, Flat and Supported by Pillars
6. The Bible Says You Can Get to Heaven by Building a Really Tall Tower
This from a book which claims to be the inerrant word of god. If I were advising Christians, I'd tell them to embrace the concept of evolution. Evolution could be the foundation for explaining why the world is so different today than it was when the bible was written.
Disney/ABC radio affiliate KSFO, take a listen.
From the New Republic Online -
Sorry to be a downer, but this NPR report on Jose Padilla is easily one of the more disturbing things I've read all day. Padilla, as we've learned, has basically gone insane during his time in U.S. military custody, after four years of stress positions and "total sensory deprivation." But here's the government's defense:
The government maintains that whatever happened to Padilla during his detention is irrelevant, since no information obtained during that time is being used in the criminal case against him.
Er... so there was real no point in holding him indefinitely, without charges? Is that what's being said here? Not exactly:
Indeed, there are even some within the government who think it might be best if Padilla were declared incompetent and sent to a psychiatric prison facility. As one high-ranking official put it, "the objective of the government always has been to incapacitate this person."
Digby points out that the Soviet Union had a term for this: Psikhushka, psychiatric hospitals, which were used to "isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally." Here's Wikipedia: "The 'treatment' included various forms of restraint, electric shocks, a range of drugs... that cause long lasting side effects, and sometimes involved beatings." As with Padilla, the objective was always to incapacitate the person. But hey, comparing U.S. policy with Soviet Russia is overly shrill so maybe we should just drop it.
--Bradford PlumerClearly this sort of conduct is contrary to every ideal upon which this country was founded. An innocent man, tortured for 4 years until he's insane, cannot stand trial because he is incompetent to stand trial because he was tortured. Generally I agree that it would be a mistake for Democrats to move towards impeaching George W. There is time in the future to put him on trial for his misdeeds. However, Democrats do need to put a stop to the inhumane treatment of terrorists suspects. Who knows how many innocent people are currently locked away and receiving the same treatment.
Significantly, George W. also issued another signing statement saying he believes it's within the law to open our mail. Yet another blow to our privacy and freedom from government tyranny. I'm convinced this is being done to further the Dominionist cause and not in defense of terrorism.
Friday, January 5, 2007
I spend time off and on debating various subjects on Sam Harris' website here. His original claim to fame was his book "The End of Faith" which is a very well articulated argument about the dangers of religion. I've learned a great deal about the history of the bible from people who are very well studied in theology; some by Jesuits others by Dominions and others self-schooled. I've been a member for just over a year and there are a handful of Christians who enter the atheist debates off and on, some with stubborn consistency. I think they believe they'll get extra point with St. Gabriel if they're able to convert an atheist to Christianity. Their arguments for the existence of god usually center around our inability to disprove that god does not exist or that the universe is ordered and something had to order it or the classic "god exists because it says so in the bible." Christian views on sexuality are equally dysfunctional. I thought I'd share some Christian logic along with a few atheist retorts, all the posters are anonymous:
"That's true, the universe could be randomly ordered or ordered by accident. But imagine yourself walking through the desert and coming across a working watch. You could believe the watch came about by a random assembly of sand, wind, and various other materials, but doesn't it seem more likely that the watch came about because a watchmaker made it?"
"It shouldn't. I totally support skepticism when it comes to these claims. But, first: the number of people that claim to have experienced or encountered God in some way -- overtly, subtlety, or whatever -- far, far, far outweigh the number of alien encounter reports. Not even close. Second: in Portugal in 1917, a group of 70,000 people reported seeing a vision in the sky in accordance with the prediction of three little girls. I don't know about you, but if three little girls predicted an alien encounter witnessed by 70,000 people, I'd be revising my beliefs in aliens pretty damn quick. It is almost impossible not to take this seriously."
" So what? Men check out men all the time. You just want rights because you are too chicken to have a sexual relationship with a women. You're wedding would be like an episode of Monty Python and the Flying Circus.
I can't wait for another good laugh. You are emotionally attatched to your mother so none of that "I love men" crap applies."
"You have the same rights as me, but you want more rights than me because you think your "special" for having a sexual relationship with a male. You are imagining and describing symptoms to regular behaviour. Keep on parrading your individuality untill you figure out your exactly the same as everyone else."
"It was one of my philosophy profs who came up with this little bit of "self examination" - it's a "hard-on measure" - (surely there's an equivalent test for females). He said something to the effect that if you can get a hard-on by looking at or thinking about another man, the chances are pretty good that you are gay. If you get a hard-on thinking about or looking at a woman also, then you are probably bisexual, however, if you can't, then you are definitely gay. "
" Wayne, we simply don't have the bandwidth here to list all the stories in the Bible that boldly reveal God's bloodlust for mankind. I'll just assume that you, like most Catholics, have never actually read the whole book. Would I be correct in guessing you believe that any tales of God murdering men, or ordering their murders, must involve a misinterpretation of the scriptures on our part, or that it was just a myth or a parable to teach us a lesson, while not really spilling any actual blood?
As to your notion that God might have swept in at the last moment to save people in the flood, after stating clearly that he intended to kill them all -- this makes you the worst sort of apologist, the kind who makes excuses for his father's violent ways. The Bible supports all variety of brutality against women, children and men, but my point would be that I don't. I am more moral than your god, and all I need do is read the Bible to remind myself of that. The god of the Bible is cruel, greedy, spiteful, jealous, capricious, misogynistic and relentlessly bloodthirsty. Any love he has to offer comes only after the beatings, just as in any disfunctional abusive relationship.
p.s. There were no 'survival suits' in Noah's day, nor any evidence that once God commanded the death of a given tribe, that he sent in 'lifeboats' to save the infants among them. Your supposition is sadly and absurdly childlike. Or worse."
" But God approves of slavery, silly, and even demands it. The Bible is filled with statements by God/Jesus, where he lays out very specific commands regarding how to handle your slaves, and how slaves must in turn behave towards their masters, or else be put to death. That means that in abolishing slavery in America, we have defied God's plan.
Have you forgotten that according to the Bible, God requires us to love and serve him, or else we will be punished for eternity in a burning lake? Hence we are ALL enslaved to this deity, further verifying that slavery is at the very foundation of God's sacred order -- God rules over man, man rules over lesser men, all men rule over animals. . . but it all begins with God as slavemaster #1."
Probably the most interesting threads on this website are the deconversion stories, people were raised as Christians and for one reason or another took a giant step looked objectively at what they assumed to be true, their faith. These brave hearts have some wonderful stories to tell. One is currently in the Austin American Statesman.